Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Digital archives for Carnatic music

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Entrepreneur RT Chari, Director of the Chennai-based TAG Corporation, is looking to share 1000 hours of archived Carnatic music

There is something about Carnatic music that draws so many into its fold. Those drawn not only stay within its folds, but are so in its eternal thrall that it soon overshadows their other interests and passions!
RT Chari, the Vice President of the iconic Madras Music Academy, is an example. He was a successful entrepreneur, and as the Director of the TAG Corporation, had made a mark for himself in the corporate world.
However, once his business was established, he turned to Carnatic music, and determined to become a cognoscenti. He spent hours listening to it, learning to recognise and appreciate the intricacies of ragas and their rendition. To this end, he began recording Carnatic music concerts, all the time trying to hone his raga-recognition skills and appreciate Carnatic music at a deeper level.
R.T Chari.Indian Link
He has spent the better part of the last 40 years pursuing this passion, putting his money where his mouth is, and then not content with what he had done, has set out to share it with the world.
Chari’s achievement in archiving recorded concert music is nothing short of Herculean. As of today, he owns about 10,000 hours of recorded concert music, and has shared this priceless collection with Kalakshetra Foundation, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Madras University in Chennai; Gayana Samaja in Bangalore; Gayana Bharati in Mysore; Chembai Music College in Palakkad; Indian Fine Arts in Singapore; organisations in Jaffna, Batticaloa and Colombo in Sir Lanka; and the Hope University in Liverpool.
This brought him to Melbourne recently.
His trip down under was part of his efforts to look a home here for this priceless collection. He is willing to gift a music-loving organisation here with 1000 hours of music as well as provide the hardware for free.
R.T Chari’s efforts at promoting the appreciation of Carnatic music across India and the world have been indefatigable. So fired up is he about this mission, that he will go anywhere and do anything to achieve it.  In this regard, his accomplishments are many.
In order to facilitate and spread the hosting of Carnatic music concerts across Chennai, Chari came up with a novel idea: of using schools across Chennai which are free after school hours – as venues for holding classical performing art concerts.  Through the Ramu Endowments – the charity arm of the TAG Corporation, Chari has overseen the renovation and improvement of about 10 school auditoriums across the city, air-conditioned them, and made them sound-proof so that they could be used for Carnatic music or other concerts after school hours. This has opened up new venues and opportunities for artistes throughout the year.
Chari has also produced and released a set of CDs called Charangi (named after himself and his wife Rangi) on raga identification, a most useful guide to help the layman develop an ear for  classical music by gradually taking delight in identifying the most common ragas, and thus developing a love for Carnatic music.
Chari runs, through the Music Academy and Ramu Endowments, courses in music appreciation, on identifying ragas, and such like.
He also organises thematic concerts and lecture demonstrations such as the ‘Southern Heritage’ series, as a means of reaching out to a wider audience.
As well, he collaborates with “Milapfest”, a music festival in the UK, which hosts Indian classical music concerts (with UK Government funding) where 80% of the audiences are European.
The list is endless.
More power to Chari and such passionate music lovers!

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Chitra Sudarshan
Chitra Sudarshan is an academic and a public servant.

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